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2. Positioning, reading tabs and chord diagrams

To play the guitar you need to adopt a comfortable playing position in order to avoid straining your back too much. Having a good position is also important for your fretting hand, as well as the way you hold the pick.








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Positioning your body and the guitar

 

Klassisk Vanlig Kors

 

When you play guitar, the position that gives you the best control is actually the classical position (1). This goes both for classical guitarists and heavy metal guitarists - believe it or not=). However you should aim to sit comfortablywhen you play, and this might not be comfortable for you;).

The most common position that a lot of guitarists assume when they play, is having the guitar simply resting on the thigh that is at the same side as your strumming hand (righthanded - right thigh and vice versa) (2). I am right handed, for instance, therefore I let the guitar rest on my right thigh in this position.

Keep in mind that you should not lean on your guitar. It should be fixed in a neutral position, in which you can play comfortably with a straight back. You should keep your guitar in place with your right arm & upper body. A tip is to cross your legs as you play in the second position (3) - this puts the guitar in a higher and more stable position, and makes it easier to play.

And now a little something that is an often recurring topic in guitarforums worldwide...

 

Positioning your fingers and hand on the neck and fretboard

This may not seem that important for you as a beginner (starting out I was also sceptical), but trust me when I tell you that it is important. Since old habits die hard, ytou need to start out with a good one. The good habit of holding a guitar with the left hand (fretting hand) is the following:

The hand and the fingers should be at a 90 degree (perpendicular) angle in relation to the strings, and your thumb should always be approximately in the middle of the back of the neck. By that I mean not "hooking" your thumb over the edge onto the fretboard.

This is something you will need to think about every time you play, until you are used to it. Your hand will tend to want to grab the guitar as a baseball bat, and this is exactly want to avoid, since it will impair the freedom of movement of your fingers.

The position described above i the orange box is the "classical" position, and the baseball bat position is commonly called the "rock guitarist" position. The classical position is the best, since it enables you to fuly stretch out your fingers, allowing you to cover more frets.

A last thing to think about is to simply let the thumb "hang" from the neck, not making it forecfully "stuck". You shold be able to move your hand freely up and down the fretboard, lkeeping your thumb in the middle (the ideal position is about behind your middle finger at all times)

I demonstrate the above points in the video.

Pick or no pick?

If you want to play with or without a pick is a choice only YOU can make. Bear in mind that you do not need a pick in order to play "fast" (For example, listen to Paco de Lucia) - anyway playing fast should never be your goal in guitar playing - then you have entirely missed the point in making music!

A good guitarplayer knows his music, and can play it well - it does not matter how fast or slow he can play it. Of course, though, some speed is required in the long run to play some really good pieces (according to me), but you don't need to worry about that just yet.

Anyway I encourage you to try and play a little bit with a pick, and a litte bit without. I play both with and without, as you may or may not notice in my videos. It largely depends on the music that I want to play, style and so on.

Also playing without a pick, I believe, is great for getting to know your new guitar friend. Besides it is never good for a guitarist to feel handicapped and that he/she cannot play just because there is no pick around!

Holding the pick

How do you hold the pick? Well, these are the two most common ways.

 

Like this... ... or like this.
Pick1 Pick2

 

I personally adapt the second pick-holding method when I play (sometimes with a clenched fist)- it works for me. Anyway if you find that holding your pick with your teeth is the best way for you to play, then go for it =)! These pictures are just guidelines.

Playing with the pick

When strumming it is important that you use both up and down movements. It is very important to get used to in the beginning, simply because (as I said) old habits die hard. There are several advantages to this - an obvious one is that you can strum everything twice as fast.

Having that said you also need to know that some songs or situations require you to play in only down or only upmovements - this depends on that you get different sounds for each way! But as a general rule, think "down - up - down - up" - all the time

Having that said you also need to know that some songs or situations require you to play in only down or only up movements - this depends on that you get different sounds for each way! But as a general rule, think "down - up - down - up" - all the timent to get used to in the beginning, simply because (as I said) old habits die hard. There are several advantages to this - an obvious one is that you can strum everything twice as fast.

Reading Tabs (tablature) and chord diagrams

Now you should be comfortable with tuning the guitar, the guitar parts and how to position yourself while playing. It is about time welearn some chords, right? We'll do so in lesson 3. First, I do recommend that you go through the guide on how to read tablature and chord diagrams.

How to read tablature and chord diagrams

Click here to move on to lesson 3